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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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March 2015 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
IN LIKE A LION...
Living up to the old saying, the month of March has roared in bringing gales, heavy rain and flooding, interspersed with the odd beautiful spring like day.
Locally damage seems to have been minimal, although the gale and the state of the sea on Monday 9th March brought back memories of the big storm of 2005.
Let's hope the rest of the saying is true this year and March will go out like a lamb...
Arisaig Hotel suffers from continual and deep flooding on the street outside the premises, often reducing the road to a single track.
Owner Josh Kingswood (seen below on Saturday 7th March!) says 'We have been in contact with the council about the drainage as it causes havoc behind the hotel. The problem starts from the water off the new road. The current solution can't cope and needs upgrading before our foundations wash away and our beer cellar becomes an aquarium!'
The repeated flooding of the road won't prevent the Hotel from opening for the season on Friday March 13th.
'I knew it was the perfect location for the sea kayak centre!' - Josh
This 'cloudbow' was photographed by Iain Macniven at Camusdarach on Sunday 8th February.
The definition of a cloudbow is that it is like a rainbow, formed in cloud droplets. Cloud droplets are much smaller than raindrops so
the spectral colors of the white light have a much larger range of exit angles from a droplet, and as a result, the colours overlap so a white bow is produced. They are often visible from an airplane flying over a sunlit cloud deck
Sometimes, especially during sunrise or sunset, the cloud bow is visible to an earth-bound observer. It may then appear in altocumulus or stratocumulus clouds on which the sun shines from below and on the edges.
Go to http://www.atoptics.co.uk/rainbows/cldbow.htm
Looking like it's going to be a pretty short piece this month as not a huge amount has really been happening... It looked like spring was coming with the snow melting and the daffodils and snow drops springing up and coming into bloom almost immediately but no, the north wind doth still blow and the snow and hail sneaked up on us again. As well as the cold winds and hail showers, the lightning and thunder also came back and guess who was struck AGAIN? Yep, that would be Rhona. You would think you were safe enough inside the tearoom but it seems the lightning had other ideas and caught her off guard, leaping out through the metal milk steamer rod and managing to get her yet again. How many times is that now Rhona?!
Valentine's day is worth a mention as it seems there was a mysterious card sender, sending out wee anonymous cards to most of the lady folk on the peninsula. Still haven't heard who it may have been!
There was a second volunteer day held in February after the previous owl box one, making and replacing old fire beaters for when the weather gets better and the chance of hill fires increases again. Yeah... I've forgotten how it can possibly be that dry too... There was a great turnout however and some fun was definitely had trying out the fire hose…you're never too old to have a water fight after all!
The recent Hall AGM had possibly one of the biggest turnouts it has seen in a long while, amazing what the lure of free wine and nibbles can do to make people turn up. And on the subject of drink, the pub has reopened again, with a couple of new faces on the scene…
The Tearoom is still running on winter hours for now, so that's 3 days a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday but the girls are advertising for new staff members, starting in April, and they can commute from Mallaig so it is open for people further afield. Keep an eye out for the advert!
In fact, if anyone is looking for more info on anything Knoydart related, check out the new website Visit Knoydart, created by Stephanie Harris. It is the one stop shop for all the goings ons, news and upcoming events and has a handy online calender, to let you plan your trip! I will also mention that Diamh will be playing on the 21st of March and the Easter Bizarre and Ceilidh will be held on the 4th April so get yourselves organised and pay us a wee visit!
ISLE OF MUCK
March 1st saw the AGM of Camas whose aim is to organise sport and entertainment on the island and Chairman David Barnden was able to report considerable progress to date. In May we have basket making with Jane Wilkinson and on 7th June is the annual Open Day. Stephen and Pernille Quigge are with us in late June and Else Jean MacTaggart in early July. The highly popular Ceilidh trail follows and in late July a raft race is planned. In August we have booked North Sea Gas who have been coming to Arisaig for many years and we end with the fabulous drummers from Ghana who have teamed up with musicians from Scotland. Plenty to look forward this summer on Muck.
Muck's own story A Drop in the Ocean has been selling well. 3000 of the first edition were printed and these are nearly gone. In the period before Christmas it was the 4th best seller in the extensive range of titles published by Berlinn Now a new edition, smaller and lower in price, is planned and this should be available in the next few months. Well done Berlinn; Well done Polly!
North West Scotland has been the only part of Britain where the sun has been missing this winter. Not that unusual but lets hope that by April I have something more cheerful to report.
ISLE OF RUM
Unusually, February has been quite busy. There are still plenty of contractors around with the work on the Kilmory track ongoing and the maintenance to Kinloch Castle tower, currently swathed in scaffolding, looking like it's there for a while. The deer cull is now over but SNH have recently advertised for expressions of interest for the carrying out of the stag cull for next year and the year after (see SNH's twitter feed, facebook and their website for more details), potentially a profitable venture which should open up opportunities for local employment and businesses. On a roll, SNH have also just interviewed for two estate workers which will bring two more permanent residents to the island.
On the down side, we said goodbye to Stuart and Julie Poole. Stuart has been the headteacher at the school for about 10 years and lived on Rum for most of them. Unfortunately he has had to retire on medical grounds and is moving back to the mainland, we all wish them all the best, Joss and Eve especially will miss Julie in the nursery, her sculptures and creations has made amazing use of all kinds of cardboard boxes, and tubes; a veritable upcycling artist, she is!! We also said goodbye to Vikki Trelfer who has left after a 3.5 years on Rum, Vikki is moving back to Inverness and we wish her all the best too with her next adventure.
Moving on, it's 3 weeks till Easter and we're busy getting things ready for the season. Trudi is revamping the visitors centre and has a clear up in the wildlife garden, while Jinty and myself got busy tiding up and moving the recycling area, and pressure washing the village hall to restore it to the correct colour. Almost spic and span. Roadworks are due in the next two weeks to fill in the potholes and clear out the roadside ditches as we've had a few washouts this winter, caused by blocked drains and ditches, resulting in quite a bit of road damage.
It has been a busy winter for the deer project, Sean and Ali have been out censusing and checking all of the deer in the study area, whatever the weather. Preparations for the calving season began in January as all of the collars and tags etc for the new calves were made - nothing like being prepared! They are looking forward to the clocks changing and the longer days which will tell them it is time to go to Glens Shellesder and Guirdhil cast antler searching and checking on the stags who live there, but rut at Kilmory. In other news from Kilmory, there has been regular sightings of otters inland and Sean spotted an Iceland Gull last week.
The community run bunkhouse has reported higher than expected occupancy figures for the winter and based on bookings for the summer so far, looks to be very promising indeed and is already full for most of May, June and July.
At Easter, we have 'Fras 'coming to play for the ceilidh on Good Friday, it's looking like a bit of a Small Isles tour as Tam & co are off to Eigg the next day to play there as well!! On Rum, Fras will be supported by our new local ceilidh band, comprising of Jed Cossar, Rockchick Mike and Sean Carlisle, possibly even joined by Dave and Emily (on Viola). We haven't had a local band playing at a ceilidh for a long time since the days of 'Whistling Rufus and the nipplettes', but that's another story.
ISLE OF EIGG
How best to cope with the wolf month that is February? Seems this year at least on Eigg that it was to go away... Marie and Colin paid a return visit to their son Donnie in Dubai, and this time also visited a friend in Abu Dhabi. They made a special point to stop and see the famous Green City of Masdar a few miles south. Marie really enjoyed the wind tower modelled on age-old Middle Eastern designs, which sucks air from above and pushes a cooling breeze through Masdar's half-dozen streets. Colin was more interested in the driverless electric cars, but both felt a little underwhelmed by the experience. The Masdar eco-city dream of 50,000 residents and a zero-carbon settlement has indeed gone out with the global financial crisis. However, what's left still shows that even in the most oil rich region, attitudes about renewable energy and climate change are slowly changing. Meanwhile in the Hebrides, If only we could find a way to use horizontal rain to produce energy, we'd be sorted...
Ailidh Morrison as well as Mick and Jacky Brett were the other Eiggers enjoying sunnier climes, a little closer though in Spain, and no, not all in the same place! As to Sheila and John, they are now back in the Pyrenees, enjoying castle sitting for a month... I myself spent most of my time in Paris to be with my family and although it was baltic at times, it was still drier than here! But I was told that this February can probably go on record for the wettest and windiest and if was not for the flowering mini daffs at the pier, and the lighter evenings, you'd never believe that spring is on its way.
Meanwhile, Eigg has had its fair share of warming events, a play in the beginning of the month, Irish Nan who was a welcome guest at the weekly singing group, Sarah MacFadyen and Cera Impala, whose combined fiddle and voice made for a wonderful Wednesday session and Brian Greene's 65th birthday, celebrated by no less than 4 cakes and a great old-style house party. 35 years ago exactly, it was Brian's 30th birthday in the Smithy bothy that broke the ice between us newest of new incomers and the islanders...
Sadly though, this month also saw the death of Charles Mackinnon, better known as Chick, at the age of 85. Chick whose father was from Eigg, spent the war years on the island with his sister and brother to escape the Glasgow bombings. It was at that time that he learnt fly-fishing from the island gamekeeper himself, a skill that he loved and practised all his life, teaching in his turn a good many folks on Eigg how to fish (Brian and myself being amongst them), always sharing his catch with all his friends and neighbours, a real island gentleman, and a great dancer too! It's great that he was able to have one last good fishing expedition to the lochs last summer. Our thoughts are with Mairi, Joanne, David and Lachlan as well as Iain and Charles and their families.
LADY LOVAT PRIMARY SCHOOL CENTENARY
Could I please issue a request through West Word for anyone who has photographs, pictures, documents, happy memories, funny anecdotes or any other insights into the history of Lady Lovat Primary School to contact me if they are willing to share materials.
We have set up a Facebook page for anyone who would like to post messages or photos.
I would also welcome the opportunity to talk to anyone who has amusing, entertaining stories or anecdotes, which they may be reluctant to write down, but would be happy to be made public.
We celebrate our centenary on Friday May 15 2015 and hope to present a display of some kind to share with the community, as well as run a social event to which all will be warmly invited to attend.
Although we have tentative plans to mark the event, if anyone wishes to offer ideas, advice, suggestion or practical help, we would be very grateful.
Not only is there a solar eclipse on Friday 20th March, but there is also a Supermoon the previous night - this is known as a Supermoon Eclipse.
It will be the biggest solar eclipse since 1999 (although there have been others in 2006, 2008 and 2011) with 98% of the sun's light being blocked in the Northern hemisphere.
A Supermooana is when the Moon and the Earth are as close together as they can possibly be, which happens every 13 months and 18 days. If weather permits visibility it will look enormous.
The next total eclipse to be seen from mainland Britain won't happen until 2090.
HOLE AT TRAIGH GOLF COURSE
It is hoped that the massive sinkhole which opened up on Traigh Golf Course will be repaired by the beginning of April.
The 22 foot wide, 14 ft deep chasm appeared after a period of heavy rainfall in December when a drainage pipe collapsed. It was estimated that the repairs could cost in the region of £16,000, requiring 200 tonnes of sand. For a while the club face an uncertain future.
However all is well. Some of the costs will be covered by insurance and the owners have confirmed that they will make up the shortfall. The course has remained open.
A digger and a tractor were used to help fix the damage and a new drainage pipe has now been installed
In March 2013 a similar sinkhole appeared on a course in the US. That one swallowed a golfer who was walking along and it took 20 minutes to rescue him!
A digger and a tractor were used to help fix the damage and a new drainage pipe has now been installed.
TWENTY YEARS OF WEST WORD
Twenty years ago - March 1995
Although the West Word of March 1995 carried three stories on its front page there's no doubting what the main one was - 'Save Our Sleepers'. The report told how community representations from Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig and Glenfinnan accompanied the organiser of the protest march, Dr. Michael Foxley, from Fort William Station along the high Street carrying banners that proclaimed 'Lochaber Needs the West Highland Line' and 'Save Our West Highland Line.' Letters of protest against possible cuts in the Sleeper and Motorail services were evident on the middle pages and there was also two pages on Save our Services from Glenfinnan's John Barnes and our MP Sir Russell Johnston.
The page 3 story was a report on a two day exhibition showing the proposed line for the Kinsadel - Arisaig section of the A830 and of how 180 people came along to the meeting in the Astley Hall. On another page of Issue 5, Vol 1, one of the attendees at that road meeting, District Councillor Charles King, highlighted the forthcoming Regional Council elections due 6th April 1995, when new boundaries and new single tier local government would come into operation.
Local fishermen's leader Hugh Allen lamented the fact that the fishing industry was becoming increasingly dominated by politics and wrote of the effort limitation strategy of 'Days at Sea'! Morar resident (and West Word committee member) Molly Grigor provided a 2 page article on 'Sailing in the Caribbean', while another sporting type, Ally (Muck) MacKinnon was featured in his role as Captain of the Lochaber Rugby First XV.
The MacDonald clan were celebrating, over on Eigg, on the occasion of Marybelle's 80th birthday, and in Morar where Colin celebrated his 30th!
Aunt Prudence provided some astrological advice lines, windpower for Muck was again a topic and Irish singer Mary Duff proved a big hit when she performed at Mallaig High School Hall but, as asked in the Snippets, 'did Drew Crocket of the Moorings Guest House serve her breakfast in bed?' Another snippet suggested that a good use for the Old Smiddy in Arisaig would be conversion to a massage parlour!
Now I bet you thought I'd forgotten but no, I haven't. the other two stories on the front page concerned the bad news of the impending closure of the Garramore Youth Hostel at Camusdarach, and the good news that Mallaig Harbour Authority's application for European Objective One money had been successful to the tune of £1.9m
Robert MacMillan (written in March 2005
Ten years ago - March 2005
Schools were on the front page with a photo of Arisaig Primary's new 20mph limit sign, the first in the Highlands.
Our main story was of the review of local schools by Highland Council and a meeting at Lady Lovat School to look at the options for its future in particular. A recent excellent report from HM Inspector highlighted the pressure on accommodation at the school due to the huge success of the Gaelic Medium provision. Various suggestions were put forward and there was the possibility the Gaelic Medium would be moved to Mallaig and even that the Morar School could be closed.
There was a house fire behind Arisaig Hotel and a break in at Glenfinnan Post Office. A quantity of yellow cable ties were stolen!
Arisaig residents ran a number of fundraisers to raise money to buy a new boat for a community in Sri Lanka, devastated by the tsunami. £2503 was raised which was enough to buy an 18ft fibre glass boat with a 15hp outboard and fishing gear and a further six smaller boats for the fishermen in Ukuwela. Jane Henderson celebrates ten years as Manager of the College in Mallaig this month as her appointment was confirmed in this issue.
We had more news of the devastation caused by February's storm, notably on Knoydart, where amongst other things the Western Isles found itself aground on a sand bar that hadn't been there before! And we carried a page of memories of 'The Boat' (that was its name) which had been smashed to pieces in the storm in Arisaig.
Oswald Watt at Loch Morar
In last month's West Word Dr Chris Clark asked for information about an accident in Morar involving a boy called Oswald Watt. He did not mention that the boy became Australia's first military pilot in 1911 and leading air ace in World War One. We have been in contact but, having failed to find hospital records of the event in Scotland, I suggested that there might be records of long-term treatment of Watt's burns in Sydney.
Here is an extract from my work in progress, Morar Lodge and the Caldwells, mostly drawing here on a book by Oswald's older brother Ernest Watt:
'The Caldwells' first contact the North-west Highlands came about through John Brown Watt, who had been an invalid since leaving Sydney in the previous year of 1888. Ernest Watt again: "My father had taken a delightful old house called Camuus Dorroch, near Morar, in Scotland, where my sister Maggie and her family have lived almost ever since." The family's occupation of Morar Lodge lay eleven years in the future. Camusdarach Lodge features later in connection with a Bowman son who almost married a Caldwell daughter. Ernest went on to describe an accident which severely injured his ten-year-old brother Oswald: "A party of us went up to the head of the loch in the launch. It was a very old launch and there were various holes in the boiler. One big hole in the bow had been 'mended' in a rough and ready way with a bit of wood hammered in from the outside. We were on our way home and William and Gordon Caldwell, Oswald and I were sitting just in front of this boiler, when suddenly the wood flew out and the whole place was covered with smoke. You could not see a yard ahead of you. William, Gordon and I were sitting on the bow, but Oswald was below and he got the full force of the boiling water and steam from the hole in the boiler."'
William Hay Caldwell came from Portobello outside Edinburgh. After Caius College Cambridge he became world famous for establishing that the duck-billed platypus was a mammal which laid eggs. Even the aborigines who ate them didn't know that! He married Margaret Watt, the belle of Sydney, and brought her back to England then Scotland. Her father John Brown Watt financed a paper-mill at Inverkeithing which allowed the couple to live a life of 'private means' in Morar:
Caldwell leased Morar Lodge from the Lovats over a forty-year period. The family were great local benefactors. There were three daughters and a son, the youngest girl being Jackie's mother Vera Shaw Stewart. She was with her father when he died at Morar Lodge in 1941 and later with her mother at Traigh House.
News in Brief
The proposed speed limit restriction to 50mph of the Lochailort to Glenfinnan stretch of the A830 has created amny objections from Community Councils, Councillors and local people. Now Transport Scotland has agreed to meet with Councillor Alan Henderson and the Community Council s to discuss it further. Opinion is that a speed restriction would make the road more dangerous as that stretch includes the safest part to overtake on, and that safety improvements on the carriageway would be more effective.
Highland Council are removing the community recycling banks for paper and cans, the uptake of household recycling using the blue bins making this possible. Glass and textile banks will remain in place. The Council's Recycling Centres will retain the facilities for recycling paper and food and drink cans.
A 129m cargo ship, Lysblink Seaways, ran aground off Kilchoan in Ardnamurchan in the early hours of Wednesday 18th February. Tobermory Lifeboat was launched to go to the aid of the ship was carrying paper from Belfast to Norway
More than 150 tonnes of fuel oil was removed from the ship to reduce the risk of an oil spill which would have had disastrous consequences. The ship was towed to Greenock on the Clyde for repairs. Two tugs, Luca and Afon Menai, assisted a support ship and a Coastguard vessel.
The incident has renewed calls from Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and others call to continue funding Salvage Tugs or Emergency Towing Vessels. The Government's Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010 decided that the four publicly funded ETVs around the coast of the UK could no longer be justified. Following a lobbying campaign, funding for one ETV in the north of Scotland was extended to March 2016.
The circumstances around the grounding and rescue of the Lysblink Seaways has raised many questions by Ardnamurchan Community Council and will be the subject of an investigation by the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR March 2015
Ninety five per cent of the work on the Shoreside Promenade is now complete and contractor TSL Construction Ltd are now off site. Work still to be carried out includes fitment of hand rails for the new concrete step access to the beach: placement of flower tubs and seats; placement of interpretive boards; painting of railings/upstands. TSL workforce will return to complete all tasks by the end of March.
Part of the new Shoreside Esplanade
MALLAIG LIFEBOAT LOG
Again a very quiet month for the volunteer RNLI crew in Mallaig. Long may it continue! However Spring is just around the corner, as they say, and people will again take to the water. It is hoped that the seagoing fraternity take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe.
Launch requested by the Harbour Master to assist the safe berthing of the work boat. The Harbour Master received a call on the evening of the 26th from the master of the work boat that he had lost an engine whilst on passage. He was safely berthed in the harbour at Isle of Rum. He intended to berth in Mallaig on the morning of the 27th and requested an escort from the Lifeboat on the final leg of the passage into Mallaig harbour. The Lifeboat met the work boat off the harbour and owing to favorable weather conditions work boat had good way and steerage on. With the Lifeboat in close escort the work boat made it safely in through the harbour entrance and merely needed a broadside push to bring her alongside the pier. Lifeboat at the pontoon ready for service at 10:00hrs.
On and Off the Rails
Clarifications and Corrections
Apologies for two mistakes in the On and Off the Rails column of February's West Word. In the piece entitled 'First Group gives way to Serco' I mentioned a change in motive power to haul the Caledonian Sleeper. It should have read Class 67's and Class 73's not 675 and 735. Sorry about that... I feel better now!!
March winds and April showers etc.
Well, the first part of the saying is living up to its prediction! The gales continue to sweep through us at pretty regular intervals, as they did in February. We have had the thunderstorms with close lightning, hailstones, sleet, snow, rain, etc, and then we have respite with sunshine, rainbows and the occasional, most beautiful sunsets. We have been off the electricity, sometimes no phone signal, even on 1st March no wireless signal for a while. Certainly never a dull moment!! But Spring is approaching. There are bulbs bursting through! New shoots on shrubs, catkins, pussy willows and hostas all behaving nicely. Pots of daffodils underplanted with tulips have been a great success and primroses are in full bloom. It is still too dank to garden for long at the Railway Stations, but hopefully I will be producing May flowers to finish the opening saying!
Spring edition of FOWHL Magazine
I have copies available to purchase of the Friends of the West Highland Lines, Spring 2015, magazine entitled West Highland News Plus. This 36 page, glossy A4 edition is well worth the £3.50 + postage costs involved. The colour photos alone are really well produced. As the cover says, it is 'the only magazine spotlighting the West Highland Lines past and present, plus ScotRail Network and On the Waterfront.'
The magazine editor, Doug Carmichael from Oban, does a first class job in producing news that is cutting edge and well informed. Should you be tempted to receive one of the magazines, contact me on 01687 462189 if you would like to purchase one. Well done Doug.
Launched at Model Rail Scotland on the FOWHL Stand was an audio-visual DVD/Video of a journey over the West Highland Lines from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. The photographs featured on it - with audio explanation - are very high quality. Norman McNab has produced photographs that easily show our outstanding scenic railway as an important tourism asset for Scotland. Then, as a bonus, there is a selection of superb video clips of steam hauled charters - with excellent sound to go with them echoing across the mountains and cuttings, over bridges and into tunnels, that are all thoughtfully taken.
I believe only 50 copies are available initially, through Glenfinnan Station Museum. So contact John Barnes or any of the Museum Staff on 01397 722295 if you wish to purchase one. The price is £9 plus postage or you can pick one up at Glenfinnan Railway Station Museum.
Competition: I have been given one DVD/Audio/Video as a competition prize this month. If you would like to have a go at winning one, answer the following question:
Who has produced the photographs on the DVD?
Answers on a postcard please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire, by Friday March 27th.
Winds of Change
As you read (if you do) my column this month, it will only be a few weeks away from a big change to our Railways in Scotland. First Group will no longer hold the franchises on Scottish Railways from 2am on April 1st, and two new Operators will be in charge.
The Caledonian Sleeper will be run by the Serco Group of Companies, and all other ScotRail services will be operated by Dutch Railways Company Abellio.
Leading up to the change-over, discussions have taken place between all three Companies in order to effect a smooth transition. As a travelling passenger, you will not really see any noticeable change in the first instance. The usual Drivers, Conductors and Railway Staff will remain in their positions, only the Companies' Logos on the staff uniforms will alter. There will be a slight alteration to the rolling stock, current logos being replaced the wording 'ScotRail - Scotland's Railway.' New staff uniforms will be phased in in the Autumn, but until then existing uniforms will be worn, with the exception of a new name badge showing the person's position within the new Company, plus a new scarf and a Company tie.
If you have the time and/or the inclination, there are numerous pages of questions and answers on the two Companies' websites: www.serco.com and www.abellio.com where both Companies outline how things will change or alter after their takeover.
On Wednesday March 25th, I will be attending the Annual 'ScotRail Station Adoption' Gathering at the Jury's Inn, Glasgow; the last one to be run by FirstGroup. Hopefully there will be representatives there from Serco and Abellio who can reassure us Station Adopters that it will be 'Business as Usual' and my three Stations (Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig) are still to be benefited by hanging baskets, flowering tubs, shrubs, trees and plants, etc. Back in last October I met with a representative from Abellio and he assured me that all three Stations would be able to benefit from Station Adoption. At present I am still under the excellent support and guidance of FirstGroup's John Yellowlees (External Relations Manager, ScotRail). I will speak with John on March 25th and gain more information then. I am sure we all look forward to a smooth transition. In my next 'On and Off the Rails' column in West Word I may be able to write about any differences that have arisen, or that I have witnessed for myself as the handover of both services will have taken place.
First Touring Trains into Mallaig this month
Statesman Rail are hosting two diesel locomotive hauled rail tours this month, both of which include a two hour visit to Mallaig. West Coast Railways are providing the locomotives, Statesman Rail have their own carriages. The first one is from Cardiff,, over three days, and will visit Mallaig on Sunday March 15th (Mothering Sunday). Called the 'Winter West Highland Statesman' the booked time at Mallaig is 10.40am for two hours.
The second one is from Westbury, details as above, on Sunday March 29th (Palm Sunday, Brisith Summertime begins). I intend to have a piper at Mallaig Railway Station to pipe them in and out. Come along and welcome the visitors, and the returning West Coast Railways Crew!!
Sunday service resumption by ScotRail Trains
From and including Sunday March 29th the 10.10am, 16.05 and 18.15 departures from Mallaig will resume, the first two being through trains to Glasgow. Trains into Mallaig on Sundays from and including Sunday March 29th will be at 13.34 (from Fort William only), 17.43 and 23.35, through trains from Glasgow. The current timetable only extends until Sunday May 16th - I would hope for improvement eventually on the Sunday service, especially in winter - we will have to wait and see.
Pocket timetables, including times for all other stations for the Sunday service, are available at all staffed Stations. March 29th is the only day to have timetable changes. New timetables (with or without changes!) commence Sunday May 17th and will be available in advance, just not yet!
See you on the train
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
This month David asked if frogs have lungs.
Yes they do, as well as respiring partially through their wet skins.
In response to those who'd like solutions to the December 2014 quiz, here are short answers.
1. How do slugs breathe?
They have a single, damp, air chamber - the opening of which is called the pneumostome. This chamber has a good blood supply for gas exchanges.
2. Do ticks belong in the same group of Arthropods as spiders or insects?
Ticks have 8 legs and their bodies are in 2 main parts : the prosoma and opisthosoma. They are Arachnids like spiders. (Insects have 6 legs and 3 body parts : head , thorax, and abdomen.)
3. Which insects do not have wings?
There are at least 4 orders of insects with no wings, such as springtails. Some adult females do not need wings; and some parasites such as Sheep Keds have vestigial wings. Also larvae and nymphs do not have wings.
4. How many species of Lamprey occur in the British Isles and which are they?
There are three species of lamprey which inhabit freshwater or coastal waters around the British Isles. They are the Brook Lamprey (Lampetra planeri), the River Lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis), and the Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus).
5. How are Bumble Bees able to fly?
They have a 'click' mechanism at the base of their wings which enables extra power to be generated; they would otherwise be too heavy to fly without this aid.
6. How would you distinguish between a heath and a bog?
A simple difference is that heaths grow on peat less than 50cm deep and bogs on peat which is more than 50cm deep.
7. How would you tell the difference between Otter and Mink droppings?
The sizes, the shapes, the smells, and often the colourings.
8. At what time of year do Golden Eagles tend to start nesting?
9. Is Bog Cotton a grass, or a sedge, or a rush?
Bog cotton is a sedge, if you feel the stem it is triangular. (Rushes are round, grasses flat stemmed.)
10. What are Garnets composed of?
Garnets are a group of minerals of varying composition, usually consisting of double silicates of Calcium or Aluminium with other metals, such as Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese. Garnets are dense minerals, cubic in shape, and most are reddish in colour although some of the calcareous garnets are green.
11. Do Barnacles have brains?
Yes, but as a cluster of nerve cells rather than the complicated structures found in mammals.
12. What are some differences between moths and butterflies?
Butterflies have a knob-shaped bobble at the end of each of their two antennae and no spike sticking out from the base of each hind wing for hooking the front and back wings together. Butterflies fly during the day and are usually brightly coloured.
Moths tend to have feathery or straight antennae, a spiked structure to hook the fore and hind wings together, and most fly during the night.
13. Can a Horse Leech bite humans?
No, because its jaws are weak and the teeth blunt.
14. What are key differences between newts and lizards?
Newts are Amphibians whereas lizards are Reptiles. Newts need to return to water to reproduce. In contrast, lizards can lay their eggs or produce young in terrestrial habitats.
Adult Newts have a wet skin which forms an important part of their breathing system. The skin of amphibians is permeable to water but this means they risk drying out when away from aquatic habitats. The skin of reptiles, birds, and mammals, is an effective barrier to water loss; and far less respiratory gas exchange occurs through it than through the skin of amphibians.
15. What is an epiphyte?
An epiphyte is a plant which grows on another plant, but is not a parasite on the host plant. For instance mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns growing on trees. Epiphytes also grow on rocks, this shows that they do not need other plants to survive. An epiphyte obtains water, and sometimes nutrients, from rainwater and as it is green it is able to make its own food by photosynthesis.
16. Do bees always live in colonies?
No, some species live solitary lives.
17. Is it safe for humans to eat Wild Garlic?
Yes, but only in small amounts if eaten raw because of some of the chemicals it contains.
18. What do boring beetles eat?
Soft plant materials, such as rotten wood.
19. What does a House Fly use its second pair of wings for?
The House Fly's highly-modified hind wings are called halteres, they are pin-head shaped and used in flight for stabilising; hence the incredibly fast and accurate movements achievable.
20. Which butterfly has its UK population stronghold in Lochaber?
The Chequered Skipper butterfly (Carterocephalus palaemon).
Dr Mary Elliott
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly quiet month again with nothing extraordinary to report.
The Slavonian Grebes were present on Loch nan Ceall all month, the highest count being 10 on the 1st when there was little wind and the loch was flat calm. Good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneyes also on the loch. Numbers of Shelduck increasing on the loch as the month progressed and also sightings at Back of Keppoch and by Traigh Golf Course.
Whooper Swans present on Loch nan Eala throughout the month, with at least 11 there on the 3rd. A single Whooper Swan was reported from the west end of Loch Morar near Rhubana Lodge during the last week of the month. Wigeon were reported from the Morar Estuary and Loch nan Ceall on several occasions.
An immature Glaucous Gull was seen on the shore near Morroch, Arisaig, on the 7th. It was seen on several occasions after that, usually in the same location, roosting or preening along with other gulls.
A single Greenshank was still on the Morar Estuary throughout the month , and a Golden Plover was also reported from there. A female Hen Harrier was seen on several occasions in the Loch nan Eala-Glen House area. A Peregrine Falcon was see over the Morar Estuary on the 15th and it or another was seen on the 24th flying over the A830 south of the Morar bridge.
Sea Eagles were reported from the Rhue peninsula and the Morar Estuary. Tawny Owls were reported from the Woodside and Rhubana area of Morar.
Jays were reported from the usual Arisaig and Morar areas and one was seen in the Torr Mhor - Rhumach area on the 21st.
A male Reed Bunting was reported feeding below seed feeders in a Woodside garden on the 14th. The same garden also had 2 Yellowhammers on the 26th and 4 on the 27th. Yellowhammersb were also reported from several gardens in the Arisaig area.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from Morar, Camusdarach, Druimindarrach and Rhumach on the Rhue peninsula.
A ringing recovery from last month. A Great Spotted Woodpecker found fresh dead in a garden at Rhubana View on the 10th January 2015 was originally ringed as an adult just two gardens away in the 4th June 2011.
A male, it was a regular visitor to the feeders in the gardens around Rhubana View and in the summer months once it young had fledged it would bring them to the peanut feeders to show them what to do!
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
Now that's more like it! A quick trip round the world, part of it by balloon!
Natalie Vardey, once of Eigg and now a subscriber living in Castle Douglas, packed her copy to take to the 'breezy' Cape Verde. Islands. Natalie tells us: 'The port of Mindelo is the only town on the island of St Vincent and was at its busiest in the 19th century when the British established a coaling station to supply steam ships. A welcome shelter in the Atlantic, the harbour is a volcanic crater and has been described as one of the most striking in the world. Honest.'
Allan Henderson, our local Councillor, took us up up and away in a balloon flight in Cappadocia, Turkey.
Bob Burt, Mallaig, was in Armagh, Northern Ireland, with some members of Cambuslang Harriers who were competing in The Armagh International Road Races on the 19 February. Bob (on the left) had his photo taken with race organiser and well known Irish artist Brian Vallely
Willie Simpson and wife Heather took us with them when they left Mallaig to cruise round the Canary Islands. You obviouldy can't keep Willie aay from harbours and boats!
Colin and Marie Carr visited their son Donnie in Dubai, and also spent a night in Abu Dhabi, where they took their copy to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. We love the look!
Kin Connections by Marlene (Màiri Éilidh) MacDonald Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For some time I have been searching for the parents of Ludovick (aka Lewis, Louis, Lody, Loddy, or Lodaidh) MacDonald who emigrated to St. John's Isle (now called Prince Edward Island or PEI) with his wife and family, from Suain is Leitir (or "Sunisleter", meaning "sleepy hillside"), South Morar, Scotland. After much searching, I now feel certain that Lody's father was Donald MacDonald, for two reasons. Firstly, Lody named his first-born son Donald (following Scottish naming tradition - to name the first born son after the father's father). Secondly, one Donald MacDonald was witness to an agreement between Angus MacDonald of Retland and his eldest son and heir, Allan, at Suain is Leitir (Sunisleter) on the 7th of June, 1772. The closing statement was "In witness whereof we have signed these presents before these witnesses Ranald MacDonald, tacksman of Grulin, in Eigg, and Donald MacDonald, in Sunisleter." This witnessing had to do with the Retlands, Angus and his eldest son Allan, disposing of their lands before leaving for America. Donald MacDonald was then tenant in Suain is Leitir (or Sunisleter), and he was of high enough stature to be a witness to Retland's "presents".
Eighteen years later, on the 12th of July 1790, Lody left Suain is Leitir with his family and joined other emigrants at Druimindarroch, boarding the ship Jane bound for St. John's Isle, now called Prince Edward Island (PEI). He was accompanied by his wife, Mary (Grant) MacDonald, and two children under the age of two - Donald, and another child under the age of one (probably Margaret). On the same ship were Donald Grant and his wife, Catherine (MacDonald) Grant, parents of Lody's wife, Mary. In Donald Grant's party there were himself and Catherine (his wife), three of his children who were adults (over 16; his son John and 2 daughters, whose names have not been discovered yet), and one child between 6.5 and 8 years (likely a child of one of Donald and Catherine's older children). The 2 missing daughters of Donald and Catherine were married to men who were living in St. John's Isle; one was a MacKenzie and one was a MacDougall. Another son of Donald and Catherine, Dugald, stayed behind in Scotland. He was a deaf-mute, so it was safer to leave him behind with relations in Scotland. They did not know what challenges the family would face upon arriving in a new land. Lody and his family stayed in PEI until about 1797. While there, they were hearing and noticing that the people who had come before them were quite dissatisfied. They didn't like the opinion of John of Glenaladale and his sister, Nelly, who managed the Estate in John's absence, that the people should pay them each year, according to their agreement they had while leaving Scotland. The people left their native land to rid themselves of this overlord attitude. Thus, they decided to move on to other areas such as the mainland of eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, which was, at that time, separate from the mainland. Lody wanted to own his own farm, and be able to fish when and where he wanted, so they decided to move to the Arisaig area of what is now Antigonish County, just across the Gulf between PEI and Nova Scotia. Rev. James Hugh MacDonald, son of Iain Og MacDonald, and grandson of John MacDonald (Fear Gaoithdail) was then in the Arisaig area (Nova Scotia) where the early emigrants had built a small church. He was ministering to the people who were living there. In addition, there were others settling close by, such as the Gillises and other MacDonalds from Morar and surrounding areas of Scotland. So Lody and his family would have had a church, a priest, and friends to keep them happy. Lody, Mary, and their young family got to work tilling the soil and making a new life for themselves. Although the work was hard, the beautiful vistas that surrounded them brought happiness and contentment. The arrival of new offspring also would have made the parents happy. As the children grew older, they would have help with the work on their property. Here are their children's approximate dates of births; they may be out of order, as it is difficult to find records that early on. I tried my best, following Lody's will and other documents. Their children were: Donald (b.c. 1788); Margaret (b.c. 1789); Alexander (b.c. 1791); John (b.c. 1793); Christina "Christy" (b.c. 1795); Colin J. (b.c. 1798); Ann "Anny" (b.c. 1799); Janet "Jessie" (b.c. 1801); James (b.c. 1803); Coll (b.c. 1805).
Between now and the next column I hope to have more information on Lody's extended family for you to digest. Have a happy St. Patrick's Day!!!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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